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Martinez easing Zim into spring game action

Manager on veteran 1B: 'He knows what he needs to get his body ready'
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals are continuing to ease first baseman Ryan Zimmerman into action this spring, taking a cautious route with the veteran to prepare him for the season. Zimmerman has appeared in just one Grapefruit League game this year, when he got two at-bats last Friday against the Mets.

Zimmerman has been absent from game action since then, although he has been a full participant in the team's workouts each morning. No recent injuries have popped up, according to manager Dave Martinez, but it has been a decision made by Martinez in an effort to keep the first baseman healthy.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals are continuing to ease first baseman Ryan Zimmerman into action this spring, taking a cautious route with the veteran to prepare him for the season. Zimmerman has appeared in just one Grapefruit League game this year, when he got two at-bats last Friday against the Mets.

Zimmerman has been absent from game action since then, although he has been a full participant in the team's workouts each morning. No recent injuries have popped up, according to manager Dave Martinez, but it has been a decision made by Martinez in an effort to keep the first baseman healthy.

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"These guys, especially him, have been around," Martinez said. "He knows what he needs to get his body ready. We talked a lot about his at-bats and stuff, and he'll get enough at-bats by the end of Spring Training."

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Finally healthy in 2017, Zimmerman played in 144 games in the regular season, his most since '13, which resulted in his most productive season since then, too. He posted a .930 OPS with 36 home runs and 3.3 Wins Above Replacement, as measured by FanGraphs. The 33-year-old proved that, when healthy, he can still be a productive player.

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Keeping him at full strength, however, has been a more difficult task.

From 2014-16, Zimmerman averaged 90 games per season and at times battled injuries that hampered him at the plate when he did play. Zimmerman complained of back stiffness earlier in camp this spring, which resulted in him getting scratched from one game, so Martinez has wanted to ensure he did not have any lingering issues.

"He feels good," Martinez said. "It's kind of me being cautious."

Scherzer completes third spring outing
Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer completed another strong outing in his third Grapefruit League start during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Cardinals. Scherzer struck out four with one walk in four innings and yielded only one hit -- a solo home run to St. Louis third baseman Greg Garcia.

Scherzer wanted to get a feel for his curveball, so he mixed it in a few extra times during the course of his outing. And although he felt like he fell behind too often, he was happy with the progress his curveball has made at this point in the spring.

Video: WSH@STL: Scherzer on spring performance vs. Cardinals

"Every time you watch him pitch, he has a game plan," Martinez said. "Whether it's Spring Training games or in the bullpen, he's always got a game plan. He's always working on something. He looked really good."

Milone goes on paternity leave
Left-hander Tommy Milone, who is in Nationals camp as a non-roster invitee, will miss the next few days after his wife, Tina, gave birth to the couple's second child on Tuesday, a baby girl named Maddie.

Video: WSH@HOU: Milone induces a check-swing double play

Milone has appeared in three games (one start) for Washington this spring as he tries to make an impression with the club and audition as potential rotation depth. He has thrown six shutout innings and allowed two hits and struck out six.

He is scheduled to return to camp on Saturday.

Up next
Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound as the Nationals welcome the Mets to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman